Calling the Pen: Thankful for blessings amid life's storms -
Baseball Essays

Calling the Pen: Thankful for blessings amid life’s storms


The initial plan sounded like a tale from the old west. Dave Glenn and his dad, Mike, had sent the women and children out of town before a dangerous stranger arrived, threatening all that they owned. But it wasn’t long before they decided that they, too, should leave. Hurricane Florence was bearing down on the Carolinas and taking aim on the Wilmington area in which they live. Forecasters were calling for fierce winds and catastrophic flooding. It’s difficult to stand your ground when there’s no ground to stand on.

Dave and Mike headed toward Maryland, where the women and children had already gone to escape the danger. And, as Florence applied her fury on Saturday, September 15th, Dave sat in our house, doing his best to take his mind off a storm whose power was beyond his control. With a college football game playing in the background, Dave thought about a perfect day he had had last year with his 13-year-old son AJ.

For Father’s Day, Dave had received a scorebook. He had introduced AJ to baseball the hard way. When AJ was 3, Dave took him to a Rangers-Yankees game in Arlington, Texas. They were sitting in left-center field when Derek Jeter led off the game with a long drive toward their seats. Dave said he had never seen a ball coming directly toward him and reacted like any fan, positioning himself to catch it. He realized he had misjudged the ball slightly when it landed about six rows behind him. He also realized he had knocked down his son, whose tears had nothing to do with missing the ball. “That was the epitome of my father of the year award,” Dave said.


June 26, 2017 was more pleasant. Dave and AJ were visiting family in New Jersey and took in a Single A game between the Lakewood BlueClaws and the Greensboro Grasshoppers. Their seats were about 18 rows up, it was 78 degrees and sunny, and there was a brand-new scorebook to break in. Dave decided he and AJ would share the scorekeeping duties. Their concentration was disrupted when an usher seated a family directly in front of them. Dave wasn’t sure if his expression reflected disappointment, but the usher was soon whispering in his ear. He asked if Dave and AJ wanted to move to the front row behind the backstop. “We were within an arm’s reach of the umpire,” Dave said. “It was neat to see professional ballplayers up close.”

AJ wasn’t as excited because he thought the move reduced his chance of getting a foul ball, which he wanted badly. “About the third or fourth inning, the usher brought us a foul ball,” Dave said. It wasn’t long before he realized there was perfection happening in the game as well. The pitcher for the BlueClaws, left-hander Ranger Suarez, hadn’t given up a hit. Dave told AJ that Suarez also hadn’t walked anyone. Suarez had struck out eight through six innings.

“I could tell the manager was in a predicament,” Dave said. “These guys aren’t built to pitch nine innings.” Suarez was perfect in the seventh and got the first two batters in the eighth while another pitcher warmed up. “By now, everyone knew what was going on,” Dave said. The third batter in the inning ended the drama with a single to right field. The manager signaled for the relief pitcher, and Suarez left to a standing ovation.

“I looked it up later on,” Dave said. “In Major League Baseball history, there have only been 23 perfect games, and it’s about the same in the minors. That means you have 1/10,000th of a chance to see a perfect game. What an experience. It was really special.”

What was most special to Dave was sharing the experience with his son. “The night reminded me about what fathers and sons have been doing with each other over the course of 150 years. You bond over those moments.”

They’re good to have in reserve when a storm hits. Especially when that storm has left your house damaged to the point where it’s uninhabitable. That’s what Dave and his family are still facing. Florence is gone, but there’s a battle over insurance money. They’re hoping that gets resolved soon so that the work can begin.

In the meantime, Dave and his family are living with his parents, whose house was spared. As the families celebrate Thanksgiving weekend, Dave is thankful.

“I never imagined moving back in with my parents at 37, but despite the close quarters, it has gone really well and they continue to bless us with their love and care. We are grateful for friends and family who didn’t hesitate to help us when we needed shelter from the storm. We’ve had friends reach out from near and far with money and clothes. It’s really tough to complain, because, compared to many, we lost very little. So many lost everything, and don’t have the fortune of staying with family, and maintaining a normal routine while they heal from this storm. Despite the imperfectness of the situation, there’s so much to be grateful for.”

Editor’s Note: Dave is a science teacher who appreciates the role that physics plays in pitching and hitting. He’s both analytical and passionate, especially about his teams — the Nationals, Redskins and Caps. He was in charge of planning his brother Jason’s bachelor party and picked a Nationals game. There wasn’t anything approaching a perfect game that night, but it was the perfect choice.

Jack Gibbons spent 46 years in sports journalism, including a chunk of that time as sports editor of The Baltimore Sun. Now retired from full-time work, Jack serves as the lead editor and writer for’s “Calling the Pen,” a periodic feature that highlights baseball essays written by the community. If you would like to contribute to ‘Calling the Pen,” send a 750-1,200-word, original piece via email to [email protected] for consideration.



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